No superheroes in this inspiring story, just committed kids willing to do the hard work—internal and external—to make a...

READ REVIEW

LEATHERBACK BLUES

From the Wild Place Adventure Series series , Vol. 4

A 13-year-old Canadian girl learns the true meaning of bravery while encountering challenges and adventure at a leatherback-turtle sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Robin lives and helps out at the Wild Place Animal Shelter run by her white family: her veterinarian father, her 11-year-old brother, Squirm, and her grandmother, Griff. Robin’s mother’s early death imprinted Robin with a generalized fear (she calls herself a “wuss”); but Griff, (the story’s wise soul who satisfyingly dispenses wise-soul observations) reassures her. Still, Robin wishes she were like her best friend, Zo-Zo, who apparently isn’t scared of anything. When Robin, Zo-Zo, Griff, and Squirm travel to Costa Rica to help a new Costa Rican friend, Carlos, with his fledgling turtle sanctuary, they find a bare-bones outfit. With enthusiasm, the Canadians, an evidently all-white crew, work with brown-skinned Carlos to help it succeed. (Reading only the tropes, there’s a whiff of white-savior overtones, but Hood-Caddy’s narrative throughout stresses the equitable passion of shared beliefs.) When Robin and Zo-Zo are kidnapped, the details are age-appropriately realistic—a hallmark throughout. Also realistically—and refreshingly—the girls don’t accomplish a daring, formulaic escape. Instead, Robin prevents Zo-Zo from doing something foolish before they are rescued, learning that not letting fear stop you is braver than bravado.

No superheroes in this inspiring story, just committed kids willing to do the hard work—internal and external—to make a positive difference. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4597-4017-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

more